MILAN | ITALY – People who consume lots of milk and cheese and yogurt may not necessarily live any longer than those who don’t, a recent study suggests.
Researchers examined data on total dairy consumption for more than 168,000 women and more than 49,000 men without any history of cancer of heart diseases. During about three decades of follow-up, 51,438 people died.
Compared to people with the lowest total dairy consumption – an average of 0.8 serving a day – those who consumed the most diary 7% more likely to die during the study period. People who fell somewhere in between – without about one to three serving daily – had survival odds similar to individuals who consumed the least amount of diary.
“Total diary intake was not associated with lower risk of total mortality”, lead study author Ming Ding of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues write in The BMJ.
“The health effects of diary could depend on the comparison foods used to replace dairy”, Ding and colleagues write.
Some previous research has linked dairy consumption with a slightly lower risk of a wide range of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, the study team writes. But high dairy consumption has also been linked with an increased risk of some cancers in some previous studies.
Dairy products are widely consumed worldwide, and are an important source of protein, vitamin D, and calcium, the study team notes. Dairy can also contain saturated fats and cholesterol that might negatively impact health, the authors point out.
For the current analysis, researchers looked at data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study in the U.S. All three studies administered health questionnaires to participants every two years and also asked about eating habits.
People in these studies who consumed the most dairy were less likely to drink alcohol and smoke and more physically active than those with the least dairy in their diets, the study found.
In some instance, they type of dairy products people consumed also appeared to impact mortality.
A higher intake of skimmed or low-fat milk, for example, was associated with a slightly higher risk of death from all causes during the study as well as a greater chance of dying from heart disease or colorectal cancer, in particular.
Whole milk, meanwhile, was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes as well as from cardiovascular disease and cancer.